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Face to face with Fanta in Kansas
Story by MUGUMO MUNENE
Publication Date: 2007/07/07
The name Fanta, that orange-coloured soft drink, has always conjured many images in my mind. This is the way it has been since, as a little boy, I bought my first bottle for Sh1.65 at a shop at my Unjiru village run by resilient Muriuki wa Kaheavy years ago.
Last Saturday, my knowledge increased after I met Fanta, a fine Gambian lady married to an affable Kenyan gentleman called Hophine Bwosinde. Fanta, I learnt, is a common name in West Africa, especially in the Gambia, which means a beautiful day.
The couple had just opened a Kenyan restaurant named Fanta’s Kitchen Café in Overland Park City, Kansas. As it turned out, the restaurant’s theme colour is orange and Fanta herself was resplendent in an ankle-length orange dress on the opening day. They have also stocked Fanta, the drink.
I went to the opening to eat some Kenyan food. The menu could have come right out of a hotel in Kakamega or Voi — ugali, chapati, nyama choma, kuku choma, kachumbari, mukimo, beef stew, mandazi, samosa and pilau.
KENYANS FLOCKED THE restaurant. Some had not been home in 10 years or more, I learned from chatting with them and Fanta’s Kitchen brought back fond memories of their favourite eating places back home.
Americans too came to Fanta’s Kitchen to sample Kenyan food, the latest addition to tens of ethnic restaurants that dot the cities — Spanish, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Vietnamese, just about a whole list. As my Chinese friend Lou Yi remarked recently, she doesn’t understand why Americans build very nice kitchens and then eat out in restaurants almost all the time. “And what does it take to open a restaurant out here?” I wondered aloud.
“You have to install a fire alert and oil and grease disposal systems to ensure it doesn’t go to destroying the environment. You have to install very expensive equipment,” Fanta’s husband told me. “They inspect the kitchen, want to know what the waste disposal system is and that you maintain the highest levels of cleanliness possible.”
As we spoke, my thoughts trailed to the day history was made as city and town halls across Kenya presented their budgets last week. It’s their duty, and always has been, to ensure public places are safe, clean, supplied with utility roads and streets and are clearly labelled and well maintained, and not just engage in petty politics the whole time.
As they promised in their budget speeches, they would light up and name streets to make it easier for strangers to find their way about.
Nairobi and provincial capitals should lead the way. And they should not forget to have a garbage bin at every corner and establish a regular routine for emptying them.
They should also make sure that public eating places are clean and that residents are not treated to all the grime we sometimes have to put up with in some restaurants.
Whatever happened to public health officers, the men and women given by law the power to shut down dirty places? They must be reminded that tax and rate payers demand value for their money.
Councillors who lie that they will do a good job and don’t should be voted out in December. In fact, Parliament should consider passing a law stipulating that town clerks who run dark, dirty towns without functional public utilities be fired and prosecuted. Why else are they paid - to sit in big offices?
With all the high-tech training, who would think that police in developed countries lapse into a twisted sense of humour? An officer arrested a woman at a domestic airport here on Friday evening. Young and inexperienced, the arresting officer had convinced himself that he had made his big break into the world of brilliant crime busters.
THE “SUSPECT” STAYED IN THE coolers two straight nights before she could get anyone to listen. When someone finally did, it turned out they had the wrong woman.
She had never even been charged for a traffic offence, leave alone appearing on a police list of wanted persons. The victim of the awry officer is white. The description of wanted woman is: “Black female. Brown eyes.”
The problem? They are both women, they share the exact first name and their second names closely resemble. It appears the arresting officer suffers from severe spelling problems and is colour-blind. What an alphabetical way to ruin a weekend! And the crooked woman is still free.
Mugomo Munene is a Nation staffer on Alfred Friendly fellowship in Kansas, US.
Faith is not belief without proof but trust without reservations. -My Childrens Mama.